The Draw of Weinberg: Transcriptions from the Castle


GermanyGermany Weinberg, Glinka, Schumann: Julia Rebekka Adler (viola), Jascha Nemtsov (piano), Sudhaus, Toering Castle, Seefeld (near Munich) 4.12.2011 (JFL)

Weinberg: Sonata for Clarinet & Piano op.28, Sonata for Cello & Piano op.63 (both transcr. for viola)
Glinka: Viola Sonata [unfinished]
Schumann: Fairy Tale Pictures op.113

available at Amazon
M.Weinberg, Viola Sonatas (solo) & Clarinet Sonata (transcr.),
J.R.Adler, J.Nemtsov

available at Amazon
M.Weinberg, Cello Sonatas,
A.Chaushian, Y.Sudbin

The lure of Mieczysław Weinberg—courtesy Jascha Nemtsov and Julia Rebekka Adler—drew me out for another out-of-Munich chamber music experience—this time to the old Toering Castle in Seefeld, Bavaria. The provincially-minded “Culture in the Seefeld Castle” series pales in comparison with the professional “Bosco” series in neighboring Gauting, but on this occasion hosted a pleasantly daring program titled “Dedicated to Mieczysław Weinberg”: Two sonatas (transcribed for viola from the clarinet—op.28—and cello—op.63, respectively) were alternated with Glinka’s popular, unfinished Viola Sonata and Robert Schumann’s gorgeous 1851 Fairy Tale Pictures, op.113.

The small, almost cube-shaped former mash-house of the Toering Castle—now a backroom of the restaurant, with a neo-rustic chandelier about twice as big as the baby grand, and a wooden crest on the wall, proudly pronouncing “Kingdom of Bavaria”—exposes the ears to all sounds made on stage very directly. Piano and viola thus communicated immediately, and with rough edges, as there is little time for the sound to come together in that slight bit of haze that can beautify sound before it begins to muddle it. But the volatile loveliness of Glinka sufficiently made it through any superficial harshness… and Weinberg’s opus 28 ex-Clarinet Sonata might even have benefited from it.

The viola transcription received its world premiere recording by Mme. Adler (see also “Through Labor and Love: Weinberg, War, and Persecution”) and it is among the most accessible of the Weinberg works. By Weinberg’s usually grim and edgy, brooding standards, it has something approaching pleasant charm. The folk-laced Allegretto is downright coy, even though the present acoustic underlined its power to disturb. It is hard to say whether the sheer volume of the viola more perturbed or positively overwhelmed the roughly two dozen attentive listeners. The concluding Adagio added—as is the case on every occasion I have heard these performers live—another level of intensity to what they have already captured on record.

If the four-movement Märchenbilder are not neglected, despite the unjustly marred reputation of all his late works*, it’s only because of Violist’s desperation for good original viola literature; Schumann ideology of the day could not deter them. The proof of the Schumann-tale is in the hearing; the work surely doesn’t have to shy away from direct comparison with his Violin Sonatas—and in terms of inspiration and determination might even best them. The last movement is a supremely touching, tender farewell; a good-night to which the husky contralto voice of the viola, in the sensitive-intense hands of Mme. Adler, is particularly well suited. Only the unlovely closing pizzicato was an unfortunate touch to these Fairy Tale Pictures.

Weinberg’s op.63 is made of sterner stuff than op.28; it is stricter, has a more compelling rhythm, and some of Weinberg’s closest-to-Shostakovich-moments. But Nemtsov-Adler showed that it can be played surprisingly lyrically, too, which is why the Tchaikovsky Nocturne encore-sweetener fit almost seamlessly.

Jens F. Laurson

* You would think that even one-time exposure to the Ghost Variations would eliminate all late-Schumann-prejudice…


Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC Proms turns 125 years old – 17 July to 12 September 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm __________________________________
  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • NEW! BTHVN2020 – Beethoven anniversary goes into overtime __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month